One Way

www.bible.com/1713/1ti.2.5-6.csb

How many ways are there to God? You might think, given the world we live, that there are multiple choices. It seems we have choices what to believe, what religion to follow, and even how we choose to follow the religion of our choice. We are so free, aren’t we?

Not so much. In fact, God seems to take away all of those options with the idea behind this verse. In fact, there is only one choice, the man Christ Jesus.

Why is this? In short, because there can be only one atoning sacrifice for sin, the only one qualified to atone for all sin for all time, and that is an infinite being, but also one who can shed blood and die. Only one being in the universe was capable of being infinite and eternal yet mortal. Jesus suffered all sin for all time because He is God. He paid for all sin because He shed His blood.

Since Jesus is the only one who could do this, then He is the only one who could save by His resurrection. This He is the only one we can trust in for eternal life. No one else comes close. No other god or prophet has done this. That’s why He’s the only One.

God bless you today.

Advertisements

Faith and Hope

www.bible.com/1713/1pe.1.3.csb

Not sure what you all make of this, but it seems pretty simple to me. Start first with the indisputable fact that the grave was empty that held the body of Jesus. Start there and digest that for a moment. The grave was empty because Jesus rose from the dead. It’s not just for Easter anymore. The grave is still empty. Jesus Christ, the prophet from Nazareth, died and returned to life long past the point an effective ER team could save Him. Jesus was dead. His body flatlined. He was dead for three days. And then He wasn’t. Upon this bedrock, the church is built.

As this verse says, the resurrection of Jesus came from the hand of the only One who could do this. Man could not do this. Medicine could not do this. God did this. And because God did it, and validated the message of Jesus by raising Him from the dead, the promises He gave us are guaranteed by the power expressed in the resurrection. Our new birth through burial in water gives us a hope for eternal life. We rise as He did.

This is the hope for every believer, and I pray is your hope this morning as well. God bless you today.

Good News and Bad News

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.3.36.csb

My daughter asked me last night if I wanted the good news first or the bad news first. I wasn’t sure so I said, ”chronological order.” She looked at me uncertainly, and then told me news about the bread she had baked. Huh? Well, sometimes it’s not terrible.

Sometimes the difference is life and death, even eternal life and death. So it is with our text today. It is said that Jesus Christ will stand over all in judgment on the last day at the great white throne. But it should be obvious that the judgment has already been made by the time we get there. And Jesus isn’t the One who judges. What? Jesus is the cause for judgment, but each and every person makes his own judgment whether he believes Jesus is the Son of God, the Creator of the Universe, and the essential Savior we need for our sins. So much rests upon individual faith that our eternal destiny depends on it. Each of us knows by the time we get to this glorious throne what the judgment will be.

I know there are those that will reject this truth outright, refusing to believe there is any kind of God, or that He would have a Son in a human being. It all seems crazy. Our five senses just aren’t ready for supernatural stuff. But we have other senses. Pardon me for getting a little weird, but, we also have a sense of right and wrong. We have a sense of beauty and perfection. We have love and joy and peace. We know when things are peaceful and when they are tense. We are aware of more than our five senses tell us. There is more than our five senses can sense. We know this inherently. That’s why we also have a sense of awe and wonder, of things too wonderful for us to understand. We have a sense for God.

So when we read stuff like this verse, we are compelled to respond. We can not remain neutral, because there is not middle ground here. Either we joyfully accept it, or we reject it. We know it means something, because our spirit responds to it. Scripture is like that. Few find a neutral position with Scripture. If God chose to speak to us, He must have something important to say.

How will you respond today?

No Need

www.bible.com/72/php.4.19.hcsb

Need anything? This question gets asked around our house when someone is texting from WalMart or Kroger or somewhere else. It is an expression of love, a willingness to get something when that person can’t physically be at the store, but still lacks.

As Christians, especially American Christians, we have so much and our needs are so often met that it’s hard to discern between what we need and what we desire. I imagine God sees our needs in a couple of ways, our physical needs (air, water, food, shelter, clothing), our social needs (companionship, love, mentoring), and our spiritual needs (forgiveness, grace, knowledge, hope, faith, and love). My lists are not exhaustive but point to some things as human beings we need, but often neglect. We favor and savor desires for self and pleasure more than we ask for peace and joy. We might prefer a slice of chocolate cake over reading and savoring a passage of Scripture. Or maybe going out to the movies than a Home Bible Study.

Yet God knows what we need. If we will seek Him, He will supply all of them through Christ Jesus. We cannot get what we need through Shiva, Baal or Isis. Nor through Mohammed, atheism, or Wicca. There is only one path to meet the needs that God Himself installed: Jesus Christ.

So which of the countless ways to Jesus is the right path? It’s easy to dismiss alternative religions, but Christians don’t make it any easier. How can I know which church is true? Don’t be daunted by the number of Churches. Christian Churches all follow the same Bible and preach the same Jesus, more or less. Whether you find a Methodist, Baptist, Christian, Catholic, Pentecostal, Apostolic, or Fundamentalist, all of these churches revere Jesus and worship Him. But I would not attend a church that doesn’t believe in the Bible and teaches from it regularly. If they need other books, walk away. If they don’t preach salvation through Jesus, leave them behind. I can’t tell you which one to go to, because some individual churches in extremely liberal denominations are still very conservative and preach and teach Jesus and the Bible. Some pastors have not given in to social pressure and still preach truth. But they are getting harder to find. For myself, I attend a Southern Baptist-type church on Sunday morning and an acapella Church of Christ on Wednesday night. That’s where I am at present.

If you can’t find a good church, at least start reading the Bible on your own. Get a group of you and some interested friends to study together. That’s how the church started, followers of Jesus meeting in homes. I want to encourage you to become part of a fellowship as soon as possible.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. Have a great Thursday and God bless!

Immutability

www.bible.com/72/heb.13.8.hcsb

Immutability is a technical term I picked up in my doctoral studies that basically means “unchanging” or “unchangeable” which what this verse is about. Jesus Christ does not change. Yet, it is also true that Jesus learned.

In Hebrews 5:8 it is said that Jesus “learned obedience” from what he suffered. In Hebrews 2:10, it is said that Jesus was “made perfect through suffering.” From both we might infer that Jesus changed, from knowledge and experience before suffering to knowing what these things are. Immutable means that something cannot be changed, and yet here is One who seems to be changing before ours eyes.

Ok, before you start getting carried away with fears of Bible contradictions, first let’s consider He context of Hebrews 13:8. There, the author gives the warning about remembering the leaders and teachers of the faith. He says “consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Their Faith was on the finished work of Jesus Christ, whose work and effort is unchanging. The effect of His work is the same for everyone who believes in Him, and so everyone can live a life of of faith because He is the same Lord for all. Ok, that makes sense. But does this mean that the Lord Jesus is immutable, like God?

The fact that Jesus “learned” obedience through suffering doesn’t necessarily mean He changed. From our perspective as human beings, we see Him undergo this change from life to death to life again. We see Him suffering on the cross, following through with the plan designed from the beginning, which He has set out to do since the creation of the world. Nothing actually changed from God’s perspective. Jesus planned to suffer and die at the hands of men since before Adam sinned. That never changed.

What did change was the moment of decision in the garden. While Jesus’s divine nature never wavered, His human nature (which has been undergoing change all his life, from childhood to adulthood) was faced with choices which had the choice to obey or disobey the divine nature. Obedience was learned not in Jesus’ divine nature, which is immutable, but in His human nature. His human nature was tamed by His will to obey His divine nature.

Strangely, it is the same struggle we undergo daily. God equips is with His divine nature through His Holy Spirit, so like Jesus, we can tame our sinful human nature and teach it to obey Divine Will. We too learn obedience just as He did.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Thank the Lord He’s the same Lord today as He was for He Apostles.

God bless!

Present or Future?

www.bible.com/1713/isa.12.2.csb

What’s next for you? Have you made it yet? Are you coasting to the finish line? Is it all downhill from here? I hope I never find myself there.

In my field, it’s not unusual to go from college to grad school, and not rare to go from grad school to doctoral work. But even to have those initials after your name, it’s still not enough, because you find yourself still yearning to learn. There is a constant need to build upon what you’ve learned, and after each hill you’ve surmounted, there’s still a higher one just beyond. The more you learn, the more you find you don’t know yet.

So while this text on the surface sounds very much like an encouragement to serve God and experience His power in your life, reading a bit before this verse in chapter 11 and then in verse 1 indicates that these are promises to Israel once she has returned to the land and conquered all her enemies and becomes the seat of God’s power on earth. All will look to Zion to find God. Hence the premise of the title. Is this a reference to present reality, or to something in the future? Because in Christ, all that this verse says is already fulfilled. The Lord is our salvation. He is our judge, but also our salvation from judgment. He did this when He took our penalty for sin on the cross.

So do we look to Zion because of a future King enthroned there, or because if a crucified Lord that was risen there? Because I enjoy the benefit of His salvation on account of His resurrection, and that all authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to Him. Jesus is the King we have been looking for, not sometime in the future, but now.

Are you waiting for Jesus to be King someday, or celebrating His Kingdom every day? Present or future?

God bless!

A Good Lawyer

1 John 2:1-2
I know it’s probably an oxymoron, especially if you’ve had to deal with lawyers on either side of the bench, but having a “good lawyer” is something most of us need at one time or another. A few years ago, I needed a good lawyer to help me through an insurance situation.
I had been driving up to church on a rainy Sunday morning. On a two-lane highway that there usually wasn’t much traffic on this time of day. I’m a little tired, staying up late the night before finishing up my sermon. My eyes are droopy, so I lean over to turn up the radio. When my eyes return to the road, stopped in front of me preparing to turn left was an 18-wheeler. I was going 55. I had just a few dozen yards to stop, and I pounded the brake. My tires squealed on the wet pavement and my car fishtailed. I finally stopped the car, but not before the front end went under the bumper of the truck. The car was still running, and the damage was primarily to the bumper and grille. But my car door was bent in such a way that it would not open. The driver of the truck got out to check on me. We had the police come and check on us, but I was able to drive away to church, a bit late, but ok. (The car was later totaled out.)
A few months later, I got a letter in the mail stating that I was being sued for medical bills. With a little investigation, the one suing me was the driver of the truck! Suddenly, I needed a lawyer. I called my insurance company and they sent me up to the road to a lawyers office, who asked me several questions about the incident. It was later determined that the driver of the truck was in arrears on his medical bills and that his lawyer recommended he proceed to sue anyone who may have been involved in an accident with him. Hmmm. The case was dismissed.
However, the case against us is much stronger. We stand before God with blood on our hands. We are guilty of sin and the law is clear. We deserve death. But, and this is a very important interjection, we have a GOOD lawyer. We have an Advocate who knows the Judge. In fact, there is an unfair relationship that the Judge willingly exploits for our benefit. The Judge will let us off, in fact will erase our entire record, If we allow Jesus to be our lawyer. This sounds like a no-brainer to me, no thought needed. Ah, but there is a catch. Of course. The catch is you have to live your life as the Advocate continues to counsel us. They may make you think a little bit. But I hope you don’t think too long. There is far too much at stake here. Because if you think rejecting His offer is better for you, there is no one else. The Plaintiff is Satan. He stands before God accusing you of sin. If you do not have Jesus as your Defender, there is no one else. You may think you can stand before God without a lawyer, but there is no defense you can offer, no amount of good you can do that will be enough.
What Jesus offers in your defense isn’t a grad retelling of how good you are, but He intercedes for you, interposing Himself between you and God, asking God to take His righteousness in exchange for you. What we forget that is God’s justice demands payment. Even when Jesus pleads our innocence, He in turn takes our punishment. He did this on the cross.
He offers to you the opportunity to take His innocence, His righteousness as your own. He offers to take your punishment for you, if you will accept it. Believe in Jesus as your Advocate, your “Good Lawyer” before God, your Savior. Repent of the sins which continue to condemn you and “go and sin no more”. Confess before men that Jesus if your Defender before God, the One, Living, True Son of God. Then be baptized into the Church and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to receive forgiveness for your sins and receive the gift of eternal life.
God bless you today. Please comment if you have any questions!